In the words of Sarah Smith, co-director and founder: “As a youth I was moved by the overwhelming needs of the street children in Latin America. In January 2001 I began to act on the conviction that I felt in my heart by entering into the most feared and least reached area of Guatemala’s capital city, a place called “La Limonada.” Desiring to give a purpose and a hope to children who faced a hopeless future, I began working with an already established ministry. We joined efforts to organize a program that would change the lives of many children and youth. Thus “Vidas Plenas” (Full Lives) was born.”
The families who live in La Limonada make up one of the poorest sects of the city. The majority of the homes are better described as tin shacks. Poverty, disease, and violence abound. Opportunity is scarce. The need to work at an early age ends education; for most children. Growing up in streets filled with drugs and gangs, many of the children cannot imagine another form of life. Abuse of every kind is common in the home. These children and youth are hungry for purpose and desperate for a way out.
During the time Sarah helped to establish the Vidas Plenas program the Lord brought her in contact with many different ministries, all striving to make a difference in Guatemala thus giving her the opportunity to serve with missionaries from different cultural backgrounds and to travel into other countries, preaching the gospel and ministering to the poor. These experiences opened her eyes to what it means to really share the GOSPEL: feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and minister to the soul and spirit, while always glorifying the name of the LORD.
So often when we enter a foreign nation to preach the gospel we try to impose our CULTURE as well. However, it is not necessary to change the culture of a people to apply Jesus to their lives. The gospel is not a cultural experience; it crosses every cultural boundary. As Sarah began to reach diverse people groups with the gospel, CrossCulture Jesus was born.